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Is more sometimes less?

Let’s talk a little bit about quilt designs.  Of the quilting variety.  Not the piecing variety.  How many of us struggle with keeping our quilting plans fresh and unique?  If you’re anything like me, you might be constantly on Instagram or Pinterest searching through “free motion quilting” posts or “custom quilting” or “longarm quilting”, or any other search request you can think of.  And while I don’t ever want to copy someone else’s work, I’m always trying to find my own voice through things I like in other quilters’ work.  
I’m often blown away by tedious, tiny, overthought, quilted to death quilts.  I know I don’t charge nearly enough to compensate me for my time if I were to quilt every quilt that way.  To be honest, I wouldn’t even be able to pay the electric bill!  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post to get on my soap box about charging what you’re worth.  I just want to discuss simplicity in quilt design.  I chose one of the quilts I quilted this year, that honestly, isn’t a show quilt–it isn’t a mind blowing quilt design, but it is thoughtful enough to look good (in my opinion).  
Isn’t the purpose of a good quilter to make the designer/piecer’s work shine?  To make the block or the quilt look it’s absolute best? 

I chose two motifs do be used on this quilt.  One was a continuous loop that was stitched throughout the green pieces on the quilt to give uniformity to the design.

The other motif was simple double wavy lines with curved lines connecting them on the larger pieced blocks.  While these two designs won’t be winning any ribbons at quilting shows, I’m sure, it does enough to simply enhance the quilt without drawing so much attention to the quilting that you can’t even see the actual quilt or blocks anymore.  I know this is nothing special, but I just want to point out that not every quilt has to be QTD.  (Quilted to death)

I recently saw a quilt on Instagram from a quilter I follow on a log cabin quilt.  The quilter is extremely talented and really takes quilting to a new level.  The log cabin quilt was QTD.  Quilted. To. Death.  It looks good.  But the actual quilt is lost in the quilting.  What purpose does this serve?  I almost feel like it is just to inflate the ego of the quilter, and maybe the piecer requested this…but I wouldn’t think so.  Shouldn’t the piecing and quilting work together to make the quilt balanced overall?  I would really like to post a picture of what I’m talking about, but I don’t want to demean anyone’s work.

Also, keep in mind that I’ve only been sewing and quilting since about 2011.  So really, in the grand scheme of things, what do I know? 🙂  Just something to chew on and think about when it comes to quilt design…does more sometimes equal less?

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Longarm quilting a double wedding ring quilt

How many times have you looked at a quilt top and been totally stumped on how you would quilt it?  I feel like this is a skill that really is developed over time and trial and error.  I’ll be the first to admit that my very first quilts–after quilting–didn’t really showcase the quilt pattern with the quilting as they could have.  My quilting designs made little sense and didn’t work with the existing pattern to make the quilt pop.  Basically, I was just quilting to get it done and keep all the layers together.  

It’s a little difficult to see the quilting, but it’s orange thread in squiggly lines…obviously my photography skills were lacking as well 😉  This was the first quilt I ever made, in October of 2011.  
I think that typically, for beginning quilters, the quilting is all about function.  It’s difficult enough to remember 1/4″ seam allowance, minding your bobbin so you aren’t sewing without thread, etc.  I know that I was just relieved to be finished, and I was very proud of the quilting at the time.  

Fast forward 5 years, and quilting is now my favorite part.  I’m enamored with the process of evaluating a quilt top, selecting batting, figuring out what quilting design will best display the awesomeness of the quilt pattern.  I know that I still have a long way to go, and I pour over Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, books, etc. to find every piece of information and inspiration I can get before I start planning to quilt a quilt.  

I recently had the opportunity to quilt my first Double Wedding Ring quilt.  My client’s quilt was pieced entirely by her grandmother (prior to her passing) from vintage fabrics and feed sacks.  It was the greatest honor to be trusted with a family heirloom.  I used plastic overlays to audition different quilting designs, and finally came up with a combination of a few simple designs that I felt would work well together and really make the quilt pop.  

This was actually the first row that I quilted with a feather.  I hated them and ripped them all out and started over.  

I stewed over the newly blank quilt after ripping the first row out and finally re-started.  

I was very pleased with the outcome and can’t wait until I can return it to the customer.  
Here is the full quilt:

I love the finished look of ruler work with free motion quilting.  I think the structure really works well with the free-flowing quilting and I can’t wait to play around with this some more.  I can’t wait to see where my work is in another 5 years…